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The Associated Press October 22, 2010, 5:30AM ET

Gulf corals in oil spill zone appear healthy

On the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, just 20 miles north of BP's blown-out well, life appears bountiful despite initial fears that crude could have wiped out many of these delicate deepwater habitats.

Scientists are currently in the early stages of studying what effects, if any, BP's oil spill in April had on the habitats of plankton, fish, crabs and corals.

So far, it appears they dodged a bullet -- at least in this area. Researchers have not found any immediate damage, but fear there could still be long-term impacts.

More research is needed to determine whether oil has had an impact on coral reproduction and its food web.

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